Kansakar earns Mason’s first state championship in 20 years

Jonathan McCollough | Staff Writer

Americanism is not exclusive to families born in America.

For the first time in 20 years, a Mason student has been named a state champion for the American Legion Americanism and Government Test. Junior Puran Kansakar is one of 18 state winners who have earned a week-long trip to Washington, D.C, and to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The test was 50 questions long and included a 300-word essay. It covers a wide range of topics from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to the workings of the local, state, and federal government.

Puran said the importance of learning about government and the Constitution is sometimes not recognized enough.

“Learning about American democracy and (the) American Constitution is sometimes not taken seriously,” Puran said. “I am a first generation American. My Mom and Dad were born in Nepal and came to Cincinnati (more than) 20 years ago.”

While he was born in the United States, Puran said that his travels have opened his eyes to other cultures. This made him further appreciate the country he lives in and the freedoms to which Americans are entitled.

“I have had an opportunity to travel to (a) few foreign countries and see there are many places in the world where women are not protected, minority communities do not seem to have any rights, (and) being gay can be punishable by death,” Puran said. “Freedom in America is not free. I believe it is every American’s responsibility to know and understand our Constitution and keep it alive. There are many countries today where basic human rights are being trampled over and citizens are dying trying to gain freedom.”

Puran’s father, Rashmi Kansakar, who has been a US citizen for more than 20 years, said that his status as an immigrant should not limit the freedoms he has in the country.

“The Constitution and the laws and the freedoms in America are not just provided for one race or one group of people,” Rashmi said. “It is to be shared and appreciated by everyone. It is something that everyone needs to learn and give a priority in life to be aware of what those laws and practices are that have been fought for by so many veterans in our country to keep alive.”

Rashmi said that the veterans behind the American Legion deserve more recognition for their sacrifices.

“Veteran sometimes aren’t getting enough recognition in the country for all the sacrifices they’ve made,” Rashmi said. “By showing their contribution with this activity through high school kids, they’re trying to show the need for (upholding) the American Constitution and the effort that American veterans have done and the sacrifices they’ve made so that school children actually know what it means.”

Puran also wanted to extend his thanks to the veterans in the American Legion for the opportunity he received.

“I would like to thank America’s veterans for making (it) a priority for high school students to understand and test on American government and Americanism,” Puran said. “I am so looking forward to the Washington DC and Gettysburg trip. (I am) glad to represent Mason as a first State Winner in 20 years.”